In 2019, nearly one in four people in the Netherlands had visited their general practitioner for stomach, liver and/or bowel problems of a more or less serious nature. This amounts to more than 3.8 million people. In 2011, this number was 3.4 million. The above was revealed by a study carried out by RIVM that was commissioned by the Dutch Stomach, Liver and Bowel Foundation.
Almost 60% of all people with stomach, liver and/or bowel problems are women and more than 40% are men. The problems can vary greatly in seriousness. They can be relatively harmless, such as infections of the gastrointestinal tract, or very serious, such as chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer of one of the digestive organs. There is also variation in the duration of the problems: from a few days to several years.
Specialist medical care
In 2019, more than 724,000 people in the Netherlands received specialist medical care for a stomach, liver and/or bowel disorder, defined as medical care delivered by a specialist in a hospital or independent treatment centre. More people visited a medical specialist for digestive system problems, such as stomach pain, abdominal pain or blood in the stool, than for any other reason.
The number of people hospitalised with stomach, liver and/or bowel disorders in 2019 was 152,250. This equalled 10% of all hospitalisations in the Netherlands. More people were hospitalised with a liver, gall bladder, bile duct or pancreas disorders (41,630) than any other disorder. In 2016, the number of people hospitalised with stomach, liver and/or bowel disorders was 174,890, so there was a decrease between 2016 and 2019. This contrasted with an increase between 2014 and 2016.
More than 15,500 people died in 2019 due to stomach, liver and/or bowel disorders. This equalled 10% of the total mortality in the Netherlands. The majority of these people (nearly 13,000) died from digestive system cancer, most often colorectal cancer. More men than women died from digestive system cancers. Between 1996 and 2019, the number of people who died due to stomach, liver and/or bowel disorders increased by about a quarter.
The healthcare expenditure associated with stomach, liver and/or bowel problems amounted to more than 3.7 billion euros in 2019. This equalled around 3.8% of total healthcare expenditure in 2019. The lion’s share of healthcare expenditure associated with stomach, liver and/or bowel problems (almost 1.5 billion euros) consisted of expenditure on digestive system problems, followed by expenditure on digestive system cancer (almost 800 million euros).